Permits Fees And Limitations:
Most BLM campgrounds require a fee to use a campground. These fees help maintain the facilities. Selecting a campsite is usually on a first come first serve basis. However, some campgrounds take reservations which can be made at recreation.gov. Please obey all posted rules specific to the campground and keep the following in mind.
- Fee sites vary in price. Please check the campgrounds website or call the local field office for details.
- Camping stay limits vary by location but are generally about two weeks within a month period.
- Pay camp fee within 30 minutes of occupying a site.
- A campsite is rented ONLY once it has been paid in full with the pay-stub properly completed and displayed on site and the site is occupied by campers.
- Do not leave personal property unattended for more than 72 hours.
- Due to adverse weather, many campgrounds are only seasonally available. Make sure to check if the campground is open before planning your trip.
Camping on public lands away from developed recreation facilities is referred to as dispersed camping. Most of the remainder of public lands are open to dispersed camping, as long as it does not conflict with other authorized uses or in areas posted “closed to camping,” or in some way adversely affects wildlife species or natural resources.
Alder Creek Dispersed Campingsequoia National Forest
Image from The Dyrt camper Raul P.
If you want to stay in Sequoia National Forest and arent interested in the OHV area, check out Alder Creek Dispersed Camping, a heavily-wooded campground with vault toilets and a creek nearby.
Campground usage is also light and operates on a first come, first served basis but bewareduring summer days when the heat rises, the area becomes dry and heavy fire restrictions are enforced. Check the USFS website before you go to assess your likelihood of marshmallow roasting.
Joshua Tree Blm South Pros And Cons
Pros: Super-easy access, right off the Interstate, lots of places to camp, excellent Verizon 4G signal, completely free, no mosquitoes, no rats or mice, reasonable quiet, no campfire restrictions.
Cons: Some roads can be sandy and soft, flash flooding usually occurs at least once a year, some trash can be found strewn about, can get crowded during the wildflower bloom. Winds blow through here frequently and can experience gusts up to 60 MPH.
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Be Respectful & Get Involved
Access to the wilds is not a given. It is something that has been fought for for generations and which is continually at risk. The best way to protect the places we love to visit is to 1. take good care of them when we’re there, 2. respect the people and histories of the land we visit, 3. get involved to keep public land protected for years to come. Consider helping out in your community and adding your voice to the national discussion: Your Forests, Your Future, Outdoor Alliance, The Conservation Alliance, and Access Fund.
How To Find Blm Land For Camping
You can learn more about the Bureau of Land Management and find BLM-managed lands on their website BLM.gov. Our comprehensive trip planner RV Trip Wizard also makes it easy to plan your route and find BLM campgrounds as well as other points of interest. You can also use it with the RV LIFE App to get RV-safe GPS directions, and read tips and reviews from other RVers on Campground Reviews.
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Camping On Public Lands
BLM-managed lands offer numerous opportunities for camping under the stars ranging from staying in an RV at a highly developed campground to simply throwing a sleeping bag on the ground in the backcountry. No matter what type of experience you are looking for, you can find it on BLM-managed public lands.
At many locations the BLM provides developed facilities for camping. Campgrounds may include a variety of facilities, such as restrooms, potable water, electrical hookups, picnic areas, garbage cans, tent pads and group shelters. However, many campgrounds do not have all of these amenities and may only have a picnic table and fire ring. Make sure to check the campgrounds website or call the appropriate field office when planning your trip.
Finding Blm Rv Campgrounds
The BLM Website will get you to information about it’s developed BLM campgrounds. The website will guide you by state to the various BLM Field Offices, and each Field Office has links to it’s campgrounds. There are a few BLM campgrounds that allow reservations, and you might try searching for them at ReserveAmerica.com.
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Tips For Dispersed Camping On Blm Land
If youve never tried dispersed camping, it can feel intimidating to start. RVing on dispersed BLM land requires boondocking, meaning camping without hookups and amenities. Its also important to know that some BLM campsites are difficult to access, and require traversing dirt, rocky, steep, washboard, or deeply rutted roads.
Boondocking does not require a specific kind of RV or special equipment. But your RV setup may limit where and how long you can camp.
Once youve chosen your BLM dispersed camping area, here are some things you need to know before you arrive:
Do your homework. Read reviews of the BLM area in advance. Keep an eye out for reviews from campers with similar RVs or needs to your own. This will clue you into whether your RV can access the camping area, cell phone signal strength, current closures and conditions, and tips for local amenities.
Scout ahead. This is critical if you have a larger or low clearance RV. Park your RV or trailer nearby, then investigate in your tow vehicle, on bicycle, or by foot. Make sure the road into the campsites are safe for your RV and identify a place to park.
Arrive early. All dispersed camping is first come, first served, and sites at popular areas are usually claimed during peak seasons. Try to arrive on weekdays or during the off-season to nab the perfect campsite.
Have a backup plan. For all the reasons above, sometimes BLM camping plans dont work out. Have a backup camping area in mind just in case.
What Is Blm Land
The BLM manages every 1 in 10 acres across the United States. BLM-managed public lands are cared for with public access, recreation, exploration, conservation, and scientific research interests in mind.
Public land offers tremendous opportunities for hikers, climbers, mountain bikers, horseback riders and many more outdoor enthusiasts.
Best of all, camping is almost always free. Check ahead of time for permit requirements, and assume youll need a California Campfire Permit, which is free, whenever you are BLM camping California.
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Always Respect Californias Dispersed Camping Rules
Please dont go dispersed camping unless youre going to respect our public lands.
Most importantly, you absolutely must follow the 7 Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact when enjoying the great outdoors
To quickly highlight a few key points, please pack out all of your trash , properly dispose of human waste , and always try your best to set up camp in previously disturbed campsites.
In addition, follow all campfire restrictions , stay out of any closed areas, respect local wildlife , and respect all stay limits .
Another point regarding campfires know that a free campfire permit is required for all campfires in California. In fact, a permit is even required to use a camp stove while dispersed camping.
Its vital we keep our public lands clean and minimize our human impact both for our own enjoyment and the enjoyment of the next visitors not to mention for the health of the local wildlife and of the land itself.
Alabama Hills Recreation Area In Lone Pine
About: BLM camping in California allows for some breathtaking views. Alabama Hills Recreation Area is no exception. Its surrounded by mountains and is near Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park. The spot has a view of Mt. Whitney.
While the west side of the recreation area is only for day use, there are still plenty of overnight boondocking options. Be sure to find a campsite here during daylight hours as the roads can be dangerous, and youll need a clear view.
About:Volcanic Tablelands is just north of Death Valley National Park. It offers spots for any size rig. However, the road is a little bumpy, so we recommend scouting the area first if you have a low clearance RV.
You get a wonderful view of the Sierra Nevada Mountains here, and the town of Bishop and its conveniences are just a short drive away.
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Now That I Know Where Do I Go
Picking a great dispersed camping location requires research and planning. The best place to start? Californias National Forests and the Bureau of Land Management lands. The National Forest System and BLM allows dispersed camping anywhere within forest boundaries
Having endless miles of space to choose from can seem daunting, so its always good to start with a map and a call ahead to the nearest ranger station. Be sure to inquire about any fees associated with dispersed camping, as well as restrictions put in place They might have some great tips and hidden gems to share with you, too!
Plumas National Forest Dispersed Camping
Plumas National Forest is loaded with dispersed campsites for the frugal-minded. In each of the four ranger districts, campers can find hordes of California free camping in areas like Feather Falls, Little North Fork, Bucks Lake Recreation Area, and Red Bridge.
In terms of recreation, theres an activity for almost everyone at Plumas. From rock climbing in the Mt. Hough Ranger district to wildlife viewing of rare species like the Pitcher Plant in Butterfly Valley, you can practice your preferred outdoor hobby or even take up a new one.
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Stop By The Local Blm Office
Also, while the information on the BLM land website can be a bit overwhelming and confusing to navigate, you can also search your local BLM area office for more specific information relating to your area. This can be helpful as well. There you will find the phone numbers and local policies related to your location. You can find them at the BLM site here.
Best Places For Free Dispersed Camping In California
Today, Im going to share just under a dozen of my favorite places for free dispersed camping in California with you.
Although Im keeping my absolute favorites secret for now , these 11 dispersed campsites are still truly some of the best the state has to offer.
Lets dive right in to where to go dispersed camping in California on your next trip.
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Where To Find Free Camping In California
As a general rule of thumb, finding free camping on the coastor any coast, reallyis difficult. There are exceptions to this rule, but if youre watching your budget, the coast is a tricky place to do it.
Luckily, the interior of California is full of public lands, including the Bureau of Land Management, National Forest, and National Park Service lands, where you can settle in for a week of adventure and relaxation in a beautiful place.
California Coastal National Monument
Connecting the Pacific Ocean with the land, the California Coastal National Monument provides unique coastal habitat for marine-dependent wildlife and vegetation on more than 20,000 rocks, islands, exposed reefs and pinnacles along the California coastline, as well as 7,924 acres of public land in six onshore units: Trinidad Head, Waluplh-Lighthouse Ranch, Lost Coast Headlands, Point Arena-Stornetta, Cotoni-Coast Dairies, and Piedras Blancas.
While millions of people view the Monument from beaches, bluffs and watercraft, a closer look reveals activity as it provides untrammeled nesting habitat for an estimated 200,000 breeding seabirds and thousands of loafing and breeding marine mammals, including harbor seals, and California and Stellers sea lions.
The California Coast is a way of life for millions of Californians, and a destination for visitors from around the world. Many come to the coast for health, play, work, discovery, and enjoyment. The scenic beauty and important wildlife habitat within the Monument are protected by the Bureau of Land Management as National Conservation Lands.
Along its length, this spectacular interplay of land and sea is an experience that creates lasting connections between people and nature.
The off-shore rocks and islands included in the Monument are those exposed above mean high tide, and within 12 nautical miles of the mainland along the 1,100 mile California coastline.
Access: Open for day use only
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Dispersed Camping Is Essentially Free Camping On Open Land
and it comes with its own set of pros and cons. Boondocking is most commonly available on publicly-owned U.S. taxpayer land, also referred to as BLM land . However you can find primitive camping in other areas as well .
You wont find dispersed camping areas anywhere within national parks, city areas, private property, protected wilderness, etc. Camping at a designated campground, for example, is not dispersed camping. The links below can tell you where to find said land around each U.S. city area and how to best preserve the land youre staying on.
Volcanic Tablelands Blm Land
Summary – Flat, open BLM land directly north of downtown Bishop with a beautiful 360 degree view of the Eastern Sierra Nevadas. The perfect time of year for this campsite is spring and fall, when the surrounding mountains are covered in snow, but the valley floor is still warm.
You can set up camp anywhere along Casa Diablo Rd. We chose a spot roughly 2 miles in once the road plateaus to get the most of our visual surroundings.
Pros – Spectacular view, guaranteed availability & privacy, proximity to the Happy/Sad Boulders, a 40 min. drive to the Long Valley Hot Springs area, cell phone reception
Cons – Zero amenities, very exposed to the elements
Recommendation – The dirt surface of Casa Diablo Rd. is level and can be navigated by any vehicle . However the dust on the road gets deep in some areas. Keep your wheels turning, close your air vents and don’t follow cars too closely.
Most importantly, don’t set your campsite up directly downwind from the road, or where dirt is especially deep on the road. Any car passing by is going to kick up a lot of dust. We saw one campsite get absolutely punished.
Directions – From Bishop, take State Highway 6 north to Five Bridges Road, then take a left. Travel on Five Bridges Road 5 miles until it turns into a wide, well-traveled dirt road. Follow the dirt road up a hill to the BLM area. You’ll see a sign pointing you to Casa Diablo Rd. , which is the best place to camp.
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Can I Live On Blm Land
Homesteading isnt currently allowed on BLM. In fact, even camping on BLM land has its limits. Most sites limit campers to a 14 day stay limit. After 14 days you are required to move. If you want to continue camping, you must move to another BLM jurisdiction.
If you want to live off-grid on BLM, your best bet is to have a home with wheels!
Is It Safe To Camp On Blm Land
It is generally safe to go BLM camping in California. Like any outdoor and off-grid experience, its wise to take precautions. Know your surroundings, be observant, and have an exit plan should you feel uncomfortable or encounter a dangerous situation.
We also recommend always letting someone know where you are and having emergency numbers written down.
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What Are The Best States For Blm Camping And Recreation
We have a lot of experience with both recreating and camping on BLM Land. Although Alaska has the most of it, we hardly suggests its the best. The hard to access quality of Alaska BLM, ranks it rather low on our list.
Below are our three favorite states for BLM. Well share with you a few of our favorite BLM campsites.
Free Camping Options On Blm Land
Free camping or dispersed camping on BLM land is usually offered on undeveloped campsites. In other words, dont expect much if anything with respect to amenities. There are usually no restrooms, showers, potable water, electrical hookups, picnic areas, or garbage cans. Of course, that means youll have to arrive prepared and bring absolutely everything you need.
BLM land is generally suitable for RVs and vans and usually but not always for tent campers. Our recommendation is to do your research ahead of time using the interactive maps and detailed campsite descriptions on the official BLM web site. Or you can contact a local BLM office for information.
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It Promotes Culture And Recreation For Many People
The possibility for leisure is one of many peoples favorite aspects of BLM land. In these public areas, you can go camping, hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, and hunting, to name a few activities.
Please remember that the activities are limited, so know whats provided by the local BLM office to determine what is permitted at each location.
Another important duty is to preserve the ecological, cultural, and historic significance of these public areas. You can certainly say that BLM has some of the most interesting cultural sites.
It is indeed fairly incredible that several of Americas best petroglyphs are found in public areas, rather than in National Parks. This allows you to enjoy history without having to deal with a large throng!